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The Colt [Blu-ray]
The Colt
Actors: Ryan Merriman, Steve Bacic, William Macdonald, Stephen Spender, Megan Leitch
Director: Yelena Lanskaya
Genres: Action & Adventure, Drama, Military & War
UR     2008     1hr 23min

It's 1864, and the First Michigan Cavalry is stranded in a Virginia forest, choking with smoldering fires and smoke and chilled by the distant cries of falling men. Among those stranded in this hell: the weary Sergeant Lon...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Ryan Merriman, Steve Bacic, William Macdonald, Stephen Spender, Megan Leitch
Director: Yelena Lanskaya
Genres: Action & Adventure, Drama, Military & War
Sub-Genres: Action & Adventure, Drama, Military & War
Studio: Echo Bridge Home Entertainment
Format: Blu-ray - Color,Widescreen
DVD Release Date: 11/11/2008
Original Release Date: 01/01/2005
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2005
Release Year: 2008
Run Time: 1hr 23min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 2
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: English
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Movie Reviews

Michael Butts | Martinsburg, WV USA | 11/11/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"THE COLT, a Hallmark Entertainment film, is a touching and searing indictment against war of any kind. The Civil War stands as an atrocity in our American History and the filmmakers focus on the tragedy of war instead of its battles, although there a couple of tense battle sequences. Whether it's historically accurate or not, the script is human, and you'll need hankies on several occasions. Ryan Merriman (Ring 2) stars as Jim Rapp, a young Union soldier who sees his brother die, and becomes the champion for a colt born during one of the battles. The colt becomes both a nuisance and a sort of mystic charm to the soldiers and although he is initially ordered to kill the colt, fate steps in and he is allowed to keep it. Merriman is marvelous in displaying the youthful naivete of a Michigan farmboy suddenly finding himself a soldier and in one effectively touching scene, he tells a wonderful and kind Virginia family about his homeland and can't finish without bursting into tears. This moment alone is gripping and extremely moving. Another particularly emotional moment comes when Merriman shoots a Rebel who has stolen the colt. Knowing he is going to die, the Reb asks Jim to stay with him so he won't die alone and to bury him so the wild hogs won't feast on him. The rest of the cast of unknowns is very good, especially Steve Bacic as Sgt. Longacre who is afraid to admit he wants to be home with his wife and daughter. The movie is very human and only its tragic ending is a little depressing. I liked this movie a lot and highly recommend it."
A great suprise
Ernesto Manzo | Pleasanton, ca United States | 01/12/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"The human story of this movie is very moving. My wife who HATES war related movies felt the film was compelling. I am not sure why someone would complained about the historical protrayal of this movie. It did not try to protray any specific battles, just small unit actions. If I want a history lesson I will read my books. This was an entertaining movie done in a historial context."
"A deeply moving movie" by cowboy up 11
Ernesto Manzo | 11/28/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I just bought this movie at Wal Mart today and loved it.It takes place in Virginia in 1864.The First Michigan Cavalry is in darker times,and young Jim Rabb (Ryan Merriman) is facing the loss of his brother.Suddenly their camp is under seige,and Jim's cavalry horse,Jen,bolts and runs off.Jim tracks her and finds an unexpected suprise;a newborn colt.He leads them both back to camp,and is ordered to destroy the colt.It shames him to kill such a helpless being,so the captain agrees to spare the animal.The colt soon becomes a mascot and friend with the troopers,and they all become attached to him,appropriately called "Colt".It follows Jim everywhere,and as Jim is on patrol,he dismounts to stretch his legs and must take cover from a hail of Rebel bullets.A Rebel steals Jen and the colt follows.Jims takes a friend's horse to chase the thief and shoots him.As he is riding away,the wounded thief calls to him and asks to write to his sister and talk to him as he is dying.Jim is quickly shocked at what it is like to die and is confused.In the end Jim must risk his life to save his beloved colt.This was a unique and authentic movie like no other."
A Powerful Story Re-Set During The Civil War: A Detailed Com
Dr. Karl O. Edwards | Helena, Montana | 01/03/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I first learned of "The Colt" from purchasing films that linked to this movie. After reading the reviews, which praised "The Colt" for the most part, I decided to purchase it. After my first watching of "The Colt," I was left with mixed feelings about the quality and entertainment value of the movie. One consistent feeling I had throughout watching the film, was a sense of incompleteness or lost potential. I also felt that the film seemed to be a series of disconnected scenes tied together only by the the colt. Conversely, "The Colt" captured my interest--in spite of technical inaccuracies and the above feelings--and completely engaged me.

Warning: If you do not like long, in-depth, detailed (aka, "wordy") reviews, you may want to skip this one as I have much to say. Moreover, this may be somewhat of a "spoiler" for some.

In doing some research about "The Colt" I found the the film had won three awards: 1) The FAIF International Film Festival (2005) Judges Choice Award for Best Feature Film; 2) The LA Femme Film Festival (2005) Best Director, Yelena Lanskaya; and 3) The WorldFest Houston (2005) Special Jury Award for Television and Cable Production. "The Colt" was also nominated for two writing awards: the Humanitas Prize (2006), and the Writers Guild of America (2006) Award both for Stephen Harrigan. This Hallmark Production, filmed in British Columbia, Canada, (not Virginia) involved a number of actors that have been involved with the Stargate franchise, a series that I enjoy very much. Also, Ryan Merriman, who plays the lead role of Jim Rabb, played the role of young Jarod on the extremely wonderful, intelligent television series The Pretender - Seasons 1 - 4, for which he won two Young Artist Awards for Best Supporting Actor, and was nominated for a third. Similarly, director Yelena Lanskaya has won all seven awards for which she has been nominated, including those listed above for "The Colt."

Given such fine accolades, I was somewhat surprised at the "Customer Reviews" for "The Colt." Since re-watching "The Colt" for the fourth time, I have "found" myself appreciating the film more--especially with regards to the script and themes being dealt with in the movie; and as such, I have gone from seeing "The Colt" as a three star movie to being a four star film. At the risk of offending others, I do not see "The Colt" as a five star film, because the potential of the movie is not fully realized, some of the dialogue is historically off (in using contemporaneously offensive words, etc.), and because, over all, the quality of acting is not that of a five star film. That is, modern day vulgarity is vastly different and far more widely accepted than it was in 1864, and the actors, with the exception of their character's shinning moment walk their way through the show rather than performing their roles.

"The Colt" is based upon the a short story by renowned Soviet writer and politician, Mikhail Sholokhov, winner of the 1965 Nobel Prize in Literature. That the script is based upon a powerful story, is very clear. According to Yelena Lanskaya, the director, and fan of Sholokhov's writings, the short story was written when he was still very young--he joined the revolution and war at the age of 13 The short story's context was then changed from Russia to Virginia, from WWI/Communist Revolution to the American Civil War. That it generalizes over the two dissimilar settings, is testament to the powerfulness of the story.


The film starts out after the Union Army of the Potomac has just over-run the Confederate Army of Virgina in May 1864, during, what is alluded to in "The Colt," The Wilderness Campaign. Despite the victory, the Union forces are spread out, lost, and in chaos (as are the Confederacy forces). In the opening scene, Jim Rabb is kneeling next to his brother who was killed during the fighting. At the same time a magazine artist, Tom Covington (Darcy Belsher), is speaking to Sgt. Longacre (Steve Bacic) before he proceeds to draw a sketch of the scene. This sets up Pvt. Jim Rabb's deep sense of loss and frustration. That evening soldiers are singing about Michigan (the first indication that the soldiers are part of the 1st Michigan Cavalry), performing chores, and bantering, when cannon fire, for no apparent reason, explodes, spooking the horses. The following morning, Jim, not wanting to experience more loss, searches for his horse, which he finds has delivered a colt. The scene is very well played and scored; although one must question how someone familiar with horses would not know that his mare was pregnant. The scene will touch the humanity of all viewers, and is, in a way, a "compensation" to Jim for the loss of his brother.

Turning to a the "second" story of "The Colt," which involves a group of Confederate soldiers who are lost and carrying the mortally wounded son of Sgt. Woodruff (played well by William MacDonald), the script makes a foolish mistake, as Capt. Thorndale (Peter LaCroix) asks Sgt. Woodruff if he has any idea where they are; a question made even more ludicrous when we learn that the soldiers are from North Carolina, not Virginia, and would have no information about the countryside. While the introduction of the Confederate soldiers is brief, it is also analogous with the themes presented above.

When Pvt. Rabb brings the colt into camp, Sgt. Longacre "dresses down" Jim for not knowing about the mare's condition and telling him to kill the colt. In a nice twist of military irony, the First Michigan's "commander," Lt. Hutton (Scott Heindl), snaps at Sgt. Longacre about the colt before telling him to prepare the men to move out. In a very moving moment similar to the one at the end of Old Yeller 2-Movie Collection (Old Yeller/Savage Sam), Jim aims his carbine at the colt (which for some reason is untied and romping), when a miracle happens--the round is a dud. The whole scene (wonderfully filmed), is watched by Covington. Covington tells Jim he couldn't help thinking of the colt being born into a "feeling of terror." Suddenly the colt comes to mean too much for Jim, and he attempts to chase it away rather than shoot it.

At this juncture, the film makes increasing cuts between the two groups--the 1st Michigan Cavalry and the North Carolinians. Each cut is a counterbalance to the previous scene; that is, we watch both groups dealing with different, yet similar events. For example the First Michigan encounters a Confederate group and a fire fight of sorts ensues (not well choreographed), followed by a scene of Jim writing to his parents while sitting in a serene environment. This is counterbalanced with a moving scene of Sgt. Woodruff promising his son he'll get the boy home, ensued by the tumultuous introduction of a Georgia soldier, Pvt. Hatch (Haig Sutherland) is allowed to join the Carolinians.

Following a skirmish, the First Michigan makes camp while Jim pulls sentry duty, and is "forced" to take the colt along. Meanwhile the Confederates, who were essentially overrun (but no prisoners are taken!), stop to rest as well. In a very poignant scene, Sgt. Woodruff's son dies, after which Sgt. Woodruff assaults Hatch for being a coward--especially since Hatch refused to help evacuate Sgt. Woodruff's son during the skirmish. The ensuing dialogue about a solder's role, Hatch's naivety of fear versus cowardice, and the previous scenes are all very reminiscent of The Red Badge of Courage.

In one of the weaker scenes of "The Colt," Pvt. Rabb is talking with another picket, when that trooper is killed. The shooting spooks the colt and Jim's mare chases after him. To the chagrin of a third picket, Jim jumps on another horse and races into "Confederate" territory. As he enter an opening, two Confederate soldiers are attempting to get on the mare. Jim kills one with his carbine, and then manages to shot the second through the spine with his pistol during the pursing horse chase.

What follows, as another reviewer injected, is the most powerful scene of "The Colt." The (unnamed) dying Confederate and the compassionate Unionist Jim Rabb subtlety broach the question of "humanity" in war and death. After the soldier acknowledges his amazement of the colt, time seems to stop: they exchange names and Rabb promises the dying Confederate that he will write his sister and bury him somewhere where people will know.

After Jim returns to his unit, and is cheered for bring back their good luck charm, the colt, the First Michigan is ordered to scout for a likely river crossing. Capt. Thorndale sets his soldiers into three enfilading positions to keep the Union troops from crossing the river he has been ordered to hold. Despite the fact that Sgt. Longacre "smells" a trap, Lt. Hutton orders them to cross; (but, why they do so while on horseback, is beyond me). Inevitably the colt is swept up by the current, while the other horses struggle for footing. The Confederates open fire, but the Union troops slowly gain ground on the other side. Amidst the shooting, Jim becomes aware of the colts plight and leaps to help him. (In some crazy way, this scene reminds me of the scene in City Slickers (Collector's Edition) when Billy Crystal's character realizes Norman, the calf, is caught in the river current.) All eyes--both Union and Confederate--are now on the colt, both sides ceasing their shooting. Sgt. Woodruff (in what I take as an act of saving a son) puts his rifle on the ground, crosses the kill zone, and enters the river to help Jim with the struggling, entrapped colt. (The photography of these scenes is outstanding!) Upon reaching the colt, Sgt. Woodruff grabs onto the colt and says, in antithesis of the fighting itself, "We can do this together. Come on."

In a beautifully shot extended moment of timelessness (or liminality), both sides look on, amazed. When the colt is safe, Sgt. Woodruff and Pvt. Jim Rabb look at each other in mutual understanding and appreciation, of each other's humanity and the hope and aspirations that the colt symbolizes. Similarly, Sgt. Woodruff and Sgt. Longacre (who holsters his pistol) share a silent, understanding nod of the colts unifying peace gesture. Sadly, the colt's dialectic, Pvt. Hatch, is spurned to fire the shot that brings everyone back to "reality," shattering the silence into the chaos of war. The colt has been saved, but the war has not.

While I have tried to do justice to this wonderful story in describing "The Colt," I know that I have told too much for many, yet it is not enough to fully explain the subtle beauty of the film. I would like to add that the "Making Of ["The Colt"]" documentary is one of the most intriguing I have ever seen (and is 87 minutes long). As for "The Colt" being a breath taking movie about horses, I would have to say that I found Hidalgo (Widescreen Edition) to be much more enthralling.

Please Note: If this review was not helpful to you, I would appreciate learning the reason(s) so I can improve my reviews. My goal is to provide help to potential buyers, not get into any arguments. So, if you only disagree with my opinion, could you please say so in the comments and not indicate that the review was not helpful. Thanks.